Early in my life I established a deep commitment to divergent acts in hopes of attaining uncommon insight into the nature of reality. I utilize the power of text and compose my findings into an artistic practice as a means of sharing information. The core practice is public. The works are monolithic, monumental sculptures and murals that utilize scale and bold design. They embed philosophy and emotion into an observer, germinating and radicalizing into an actionable change in that life and the ethos of a community.
MIDABI, a label taken from the first two letters of each name, Michael Daniel Birnberg, was born at home, in the second floor corner apartment, at 120 Thompson Street, in SoHo, NYC
His father would recall feeling a light move through him and into his mother. His mother would have a two hour labor and say he came out smiling. The midwife, Ron, would stay a close friend of the family.
Two blocks away lived his grandparents. His grandmother, a painter of female nudes. His grandfather, a Marine Corp veteran having fought in WW2, now an insurance executive.
One block away was his godfather-to-be and best friend of his grandparents, the co-founder of the Leslie-Lohman Museum for Gay and Lesbian Art.
On the day of his birth his parents would take him to hear a teacher from India speak about inner peace and self knowledge. The next day his father would go back to driving a taxi and continue primal scream therapy to address the effects of a difficult childhood and his service in Vietnam. His mother eventually returned to work as an executive secretary and would continue investigating the esoteric through new age mysticism and philosophy. They would both meditate an hour a day and regularly attend satsang.
At the age of 13, MIDABI began experimenting with painting, and at 15 with digital art. In the summer of 1994, he began accessing altered states. On a morning after, he would remark to his friends that he was no longer afraid to dance. An absolution. Pivotal. It was around this time that his father handed him a book titled, The Teachings of Don Juan; A Yaqui Way of Knowledge.
That fall he and his parents would move to a remote part of upstate New York, where he would live for over two years at the top of a mountain. During this period, a new thrilling and difficult perception of reality took hold. He would develop an emotional bond with a being residing in a group of stars in the sky, and two UFO’s would come to visit him at his home. He would spend 10 days in Albany County Jail, be falsely diagnosed with schizophrenia and medicated. Toward the end of this period, in search of a teacher to guide him, he would take a train to El Paso, TX, and find himself very alone, and then cared for, with a seeming near miss of his goal.
Not long after he would leave high school early with a GED.
At 19 he moved to Palm Springs, CA. Into the former home of his great grandmother; a painter, sculptor, and art educator.
In 2002 he began mixing text with digital art. On a trip to London, in a pub in Camden Town, he would measure the walls; his first attempt at a public display.
During his formative years in Palm Springs MIDABI would serve as a commissioner on the city sustainability commission and have a shortened run for mayor.
He would also go on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Media and Cultural Studies, and a master’s in Counseling Psychology.
In 2015, after dropping out of the race for mayor, he moved to Brooklyn. It was there, in the winter, looking out of the windows of the cafe Konditori, that he combined his philosophical writings with visual art and turned fully to this practice.
In 2016 he created his first ever installation; a 4’x8’ plywood version of The Only Other, for the indie rock music festival Desert Daze, taking place in Joshua Tree, CA.
He would serve Desert Daze for another two years and in 2019 would install a 5’x11’ aluminum version in the waters of California’s Salton Sea for the Bombay Beach Biennale. In addition, he would make an immersive installation in an abandoned house and go on to contribute several other works there.
Also in 2019 he would install his first permanent commissioned public art piece for the city of Palm Springs titled, Moment Movement Change. And in 2021 a second sculpture from the WOW series.
In the winter of 2018, MIDABI began working with the NYC Parks department on a public art sculpture. Over many hurdles, the final location of Union Square Park became a reality in the summer of 2021.